Local Arts: Arse Elektronika weekend and arses up at Dodgyfest III
Couldn’t make it out to the “Oscars of computer art” at the Ars Electronica Center in Linz, Austria? Me neither, but thanks to Viennese techno-prankster collective monochrom, I could stay in San Francisco and experience a slightly more warped version at the 4th annual Arse Elektronika instead. An exploration of sex, tech, and space -- inner and outer -- Friday evening’s lineup of lectures and presentations turned the Center for Sex and Culture into a grown-up game of show-and-tell.
Local Arts: “Bodies in Space(s)” and Project Bandaloop float beneath and soar above
Because words so often fail in the realm of the everyday, it’s not surprising that some performers prefer to eschew them altogether, crafting their manifestoes with the indelible inks of pure action. Of course just as the written or spoken word can be misinterpreted, the language of the body can also be misunderstood.
How, for example, to interpret the Mad Maxian figure duct-taped to the pillar in front of Madrone Art Bar with his eyes wrapped shut with cord and a tiny television under his arm (Daniel Blomquist)? Or the spectacle of watching another get wrapped up in strips of calligraphied bandages and papier-mâché (Justin Hoover)? Sure, you could read a florid artist’s statement about the impetus behind such actions, but those often only underscore the inadequacy of words to convey the immediate. Allowing oneself to be simply drawn in should be a surrender more frequently employed when confronted with the emphatically unfamiliar.
Under the benevolent neon rainbow of Twin Peaks Tavern, a bearded man with a battered trunk strolls up and addresses a group of people seated at café tables in the little plaza tucked beside the F-Market turnaround at Castro and 17’th. It’s the sort of thing that happens a lot in San Francisco, the difference in this case being that the figure is none other than Walt Whitman (robustly channeled by No Nude Men’s Ryan Hayes), and the assembled crowd a diverse group of Fringe Festival patrons,
Castro habitués, and curious bystanders sucked in by the moment. Average of build yet bold of purpose, this is not the “Old Father Graybeard” of Allen Ginsberg’s “A Supermarket in California”—but rather a younger, lustier Whitman, who perambulates easily about the crowd and speaks desire to the bustle of passerby and impatient streetcars.
Unfortunately for me, I’ll be unable to attend a whole plethora of sure-to-be-intriguing shows this weekend such as Right Brain Performancelab’s "The Elephant in the Room," The 11th Hour Ensemble’s "Alice," and The Offcenter’s “Waiting for Godot." But fortunately for me, it’s because I will be holed-up in the booth of the newest addition to the Exit Theatreplex -- The Studio -- where I’ve been running lights for a whole plethora of shows ranging from confessional monologues to sketch comedy to a whacked-out whodunit set in Super-Duper Mega-Marine Coaster World. Is that a bowl of free pretzels in my hand? It must be Fringe Festival season again in San Francisco.
Radical self-expression takes a staycation with Zinefest and On Land ...
It was another Burning Man, er, Labor Day weekend, and like every year of the past dozen or so, those of us who stayed in the City spent it cracking wise about all the extra elbow room on MUNI and burner-free “Dolores Beach” real estate we get to ourselves through Tuesday morning. It’s becoming an old joke, a chestnut even, but it still manages to elicit a few wry chuckles from those of us committed to radically self-expressing without hauling it to Nevada in the back of a day-glo Winnebago.
So much fascinating shit is rooted in science -- from the way things work to the way they fall apart -- that it seems passing strange that more performance pieces aren’t written using scientific law as a unifying theme. Not that you’ll find a whole lot in your physics texts about Saturnade a spoofed drink mix with a long list of dire side-effects that belongs more properly in the frame of a John Kricfalusi cartoon. You probably won’t find mention in your astronomy handbooks about alien surveyors with invasion viability agendas either, but why split atoms over it?
Are you a nerd, or are you a geek? A geek, or a nerd? I like to think of myself as a word nerd. Doctor Popular claims to be a super nerd. The organizers of the next San Francisco-based BarCamp claim to be geeks -- though they do allow that one can “geek out” about almost anything, including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.Read more »
There’s no doubt about it—San Franciscans love a rock opera. From the faux-real heavy metal anthems of “Live Evil” to the afterlife explorations of “Exit Sign,” the suicide art movement of “Thanatics” to the human sacrifices of “Wicker Man,” we like our rock operas loud, messy, and tinged with darkness and humor both. So an original rock opera about the Salem Witch Trials seems an obvious pairing between our love of the darkside plus power chords. Appropriately held at the Temple nightclub on Howard, “Abigail the Rock Opera” straddles the SF rock opera line between serious and silly.
MUSIC A jazz bassist, a roadhouse blues accordionist, and a psychedelic guitarist all walk into a bar. A few years ago, this could have been a joke with a good punchline, but these days, it's more likely to be the actual lineup of a really good show.Read more »
If the venerable San Francisco Fringe Festival is a full-on Circus Circus-style, all-you-can-eat-buffet, I like to think of its kid cousin the San Francisco Theatre Festival -- which took place Sunday, August 8 -- as more of a pu-pu platter. Tasty little morsels of performance presented in manageable, bite-sized chunks designed to whet the appetite for the main courses (the full productions) to come. I don’t know about you, but when I’m confronted with the choice between dainty nibbling, or cleaning each plate as it comes, I tend to adapt the life-is-uncertain principle and gorge myself on all the available goodies in sight.